June 19, 2004
GOP Hypocrite of the Week: Ronald Reagan
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
Listen to the GOPHOTW HERE.
Welcome back to the BuzzFlash.com GOP Hypocrite of the Week.
Last weekend, Ronald Reagan was finally put to rest. He must have been tired.
For a week his body was flown around the country, in a funeral extravaganza that was breathlessly covered like a mini-series by the media.
And that's just the way the "B" actor wanted it.
For Ronnie and Nancy, life was about performance, not results. They were creatures of Hollywood, a world of fantasy, where the goal is to never have reality intrude onto the silver screen.
And that's how Reagan dealt with reality as President. He just ignored it.
Armed with an arsenal of Hollywood clichés and teleprompter poise, the "B" film star, groomed and financed by ultra right wing millionaires, finally found his "A" role when he was elected President of the United States.
Make no mistake about it. For eight years, America had an upbeat, affable man who acted in the role of a lifetime. Without a script to read, Reagan was as clue less or indifferent to what was happening in the White House as, say, George W. Bush.
And the press couldn't heap enough praise and adulation on the "Gipper," whose slogan, "Win one for the Gipper," came from one of his movies. After all, Reagan was the man of the moment, an actor who arrived in Washington at a time when the merger of news and entertainment was just beginning to gel.
And gel it did. With Kodak perfect visual backgrounds -- almost always including a sea of American flags -- and endless personal anecdotes, the media knelt, as one critic recalled, "on bended knee." They weren't in awe of Reagan's public policy results; they were in awe of the mastery of the image he projected. It was the end of responsible civic-minded journalism and the beginning of "govertainment."
Reagan was really just a Hollywood Trojan Horse for the fringe right wing whose real interest was the financial realignment of America to benefit the ultra rich. The Reagan team masterfully appealed to the feelings of "victimized displacement" felt by many white males. You just knew in your heart that when Reagan referred to that shining city on the hill, there wasn't going to be a lot of room up there for people of color, emancipated women, and gays.
In 1980, Reagan's people ran a sunny, optimistic series of commercials with the slogan, "It's morning in America." By the end of Reagan's second term -- after Iran-Contra, a multi-trillion dollar deficit, the murders of thousands of people in Central America, a rise in U.S. crime, the ballooning of the AIDS epidemic, the crash of the stock market, the deaths of Marines in a failed Mid-East mission, and much, much more -- "morning in America" had turned into a nightmare.
But through all the debacles, failures, lies, deceptions, and betrayals, Reagan would be there beaming away, exuding a boundless optimism belied by the dark underside of his administration.
As the daffy, illegal, morally bankrupt Iran-Contra scandal began to emerge, Reagan flat out lied: "We did not - repeat - did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we." Later, he ate his words in a vague non-apology/apology for the whole affair.
But if justice had run its course, Reagan would have been impeached. Even the Democrats at the time, however, shied away from taking on the media star power of the Gipper.
Reagan, in many ways, is the GOP Hypocrite in chief. He showed that if you conveyed the image of an optimistic, family values, white male Republican, studied your script, and played your role to the hilt, it didn't matter how ruinous your actual policies were -- or how dysfunctional your own family was. He blazed the trail for GOP office holders to be judged by how they act the role of president, rather than being judged by the ruinous realities of their extremist programs and the realities of their personal lives.
No, Ronald Reagan never stopped smiling as he helped the wealthy class pick the pockets of the working men and women of America and the nation's poor. He never stopped being upbeat as nearly 200 Reagan-era officials faced investigation and prosecution.
In short, he never stopped being the consummate GOP Hypocrite.
Until next week, just remember our motto at BuzzFlash.com: So many Republican hypocrites, so little time.
Catch up with you soon.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL